*** First, I realize my blog appeared to be another abandoned platform. While this was the case temporarily, I am back.
Second, currently I am participating in a flash fiction challenge through NYC Midnight. I had 48 hours to complete a story no more than 1000 words in length. My assigned genre was Sci- Fi. Required setting was a dental office, and I had to use a hard drive in my story. Please read, enjoy, and always I love feedback***
A dental practice gains new life by partnering with a data storage firm, only for the doctor to discover she made a mistake.
Miriam Young was standing at the receptionist desk, discussing server and disk space with Stacey, who was her file clerk, receptionist, IT helpdesk, and back office staff all in one. Deep in debate about compliance and storage issues, neither of the women noticed the man until he coughed.
“Can we help you?” Miriam inquired, embarrassed they had been talking about the issue in front of a potential client.
“I think I can help you,” said the man, handing over a business card.
Miriam paused a minute, looking at the dark hair on his knuckles, before reaching for the card. Her dental practice made enough money to pay the bills with little remaining, so she rarely entertained salesmen. A peek at the card peaked her curiosity, though.
“Henry Wright, Sales. Data Storage, We Pay You to Mine your Files,” Miriam read as Stacey’s brown eyes strained to read the card.
Miriam looked towards the man, seeking answers from his expressionless face.
“At DataRet Services, we know compliant storage of medical files is costly. Do you have a moment to talk with me somewhere more private?” Henry asked, glancing towards Stacey.
After a moment’s hesitation, Miriam nodded and led the man to her office. In an hour-long conversation, the man explained DataRet Services’ proposal for small medical offices. Since 2035 all digital medical files contained DNA signatures along with medical and familial history, causing compliance regulations to throttle medical offices. Combine regulations with storage issues due to manufacturing shortages of both glass and aluminum, creating significant price increases in hard drive and storage options, small practices like Miriam’s have been hampered. DataRet’s R&D department specialized a cloning process, which allowed the company to create individuals for the difficult colonization process of other planets. Small medical practices stored files of deceased individuals with DataRet, receiving money as the DNA signatures were used as the company saw fit. All files would be available in the case of regulation audits, and DataRet was in good standing with all regulatory agencies regarding their storage methods.
Miriam felt a slight discomfort between her shoulder blades as she listened to his calm voice. “So, the government knows what you are doing?” she asked.
Henry paused, “DataRet is contracted with One World to provide clones for colonization efforts. They don’t look too deeply into how we get our DNA signatures for cloning.”
But his words didn’t ease her anxiety. “I provide you medical files of my dental patients deceased more than a year, and you make clones of them to go live on other worlds. Is this right?”
She sighed. “How much would you pay me?” Miriam asked, glancing at her desk as if not interested.
Henry wrote down an amount on the back of another card and slid it across to her. Put off by what felt like 21st Century mobster movie formula, she looked at the card. And gasped. The discomfort between her shoulder blades seemed not as important now as the number stunned her. Miriam began reviewing benefits of agreeing while her discomfort with cloning receded.
“These people you make, these clones, they are guaranteed to go to other planets?” Miriam asked.
“The families and friends of the deceased will never run into their loved one’s face, if that’s what you are worried about,” Henry smiled.
She stared at him. After a minute’s hesitation and looking at the number again, Miriam nodded. “Send over a contract.”
Miriam stretched her back after she finished deleting the files from her internal hard drive. The external hard drive was sitting on her desk, prepared for DataRet’s courier to pick up later that day. In the past year, Miriam sent files monthly and DataRet paid her just as regularly. Business had never been better for her dental office.
“Miriam, something really weird is happening, and I need you to come here,” Stacey said from her doorway.
Miriam gave one more look towards the external drive sitting on her desk, then nodded and stood up.
“What is it?” she asked Stacey as they moved towards the front of the office.
“Just wait.” Stacey’s voice shook as she walked ahead of Miriam.
As they turned the corner, Miriam looked across the receptionist desk and into the eyes of a man who had been a patient for ten years. She knew this man’s teeth better than her own, having created his dentures as well as seeing him twice a year for regular cleanings.
Until his death 3 years ago.
“Hello, I was wondering if you are accepting new patients? I just moved into town and need to find a new dentist,” the man inquired.
Miriam felt a stabbing between her shoulder blades.
4 thoughts on “Second Life”
“Miriam began reviewing benefits of agreeing while her discomfort with cloning receded.” Is this as you intended? Maybe I’m missing something. You’re a good writer.
Yes, that is as I intended. Money can weigh heavier than beliefs. Thank you so much.